Where They Belong
The new Montreal Citadel boasts 29 nationalities, reflecting a changing Quebec
BY KEN RAMSTEAD, EDITOR, FAITH & FRIENDS AND FOI & VIE
oon after Montreal Citadel relocated to its new premises, Colonel Eleanor Shepherd, corps officer, was visited by a fellow pastor. When his nearby church had been unable to purchase the property that is now home to Montreal Citadel, his congregation prayed that the Lord would put another church in its place. “We saw the renovations and knew that our prayers had been answered,” he told Colonel Shepherd. “We were so happy. We prayed for you because we knew you were coming.” “That beautiful gesture confirmed the wisdom of the move in my mind,” she says. “I knew this is where we should be.” Rise, Decline and Rise The history of Montreal Citadel is a reflection of the changing nature of Quebec. When it opened in 1884, the congregation was primarily anglophone. But in the wake of the language wars and referendums of the late 20th century, Quebec’s anglophone population steadily declined, and Montreal Citadel’s congregation declined with it. By the time the Army sold the downtown Drummond Street structure to Alcan in 2007, the church only had 80 people in attendance. Montreal Citadel and Quebec Divisional Headquarters were relocated to a nondescript building southwest of the city core. With city zoning laws forbidding them to advertise that the building was a church, many were convinced the citadel would soon have to close its doors forever. Instead, the opposite occurred. “With the influx of Spanish-speaking immigrants to Montreal, a Salvationist was inspired to offer ESL courses at the citadel even before our move,” Colonel Shepherd says. “Then the decision was made to offer an immigrant and refugee program. Family services informed new arrivals who came, liked what they saw and, in turn, told their friends and family.” 8 • October 2014 • Salvationist
As a result of this interaction, Montreal Citadel’s population doubled in seven years and, by the time the lease terminated in 2014, the congregation had outgrown the building. Rebirth Divisional headquarters relocated downtown overlook i ng McGi l l Un i ve r s it y a n d Montreal Citadel marks the centenary of Una Adams, centre, a member Montreal Citadel of the corps, with Col Eleanor Shepherd, CO, at right moved southwest of the city centre near the Lachine Canal, home to many of the new immigrants who were already attending the church. One third of the congregation are new immigrants from Latin America and the corps is home to 29 different nationalities. Volunteer interpreters simultaneously translate church services every Sunday. The renovated location boasts a large sanctuary and ample office space for childcare facilities and family serviThe newly renovated Montreal Citadel today ces. An immigrant and refugee office is conveniently located right outside the sanctuary, and the facility is a short “He’d never attended our church walk to the subway. before,” she explains. “People are always Even more important, the surrounddropping in and asking how they can ing neighbourhood has welcomed the help.” new church with open arms. In fact, so many people have offered “At Easter, we hosted cadets from their services that one of Colonel CFOT who went door to door,” Colonel Shepherd’s main prayer concerns now Shepherd says. “People were thrilled to is to find a volunteer co-ordinator to realize we had moved into the neighhandle the demand. bourhood. For Colonel Shepherd, Montreal “One lady who lived up the street had Citadel’s new life has confirmed they been a Salvationist in Eastern Canada are on the right track. but had stopped attending church,” con“God’s not finished with us yet.” tinues Colonel Shepherd. “The citadel is now her church home.” Montreal Citadel will mark its official One morning as Colonel Shepherd reopening on October 11-12 with was making her way to her office, a guided tours and Commissioner Susan man stopped her outside the door and McMillan, territorial commander, in announced, “I’d like to volunteer.” attendance. All are invited.